August 8, 2015

Time is on My Side

     Time. There are people who swear I have more of it in a day than anyone else. Um, no. I have exactly the same amount of hours in my day as all the rest of the world. Sometimes they ask me, how do I get so many things done in that time? And why does it seem I have so much time? I have begun to wonder myself, so this week I took notes. I carried around a pad in my pocket and just jotted down a few time checks of my activities. Not every activity, or course, but usually little groups of them. The results were interesting, even to me. So here it is, my day in an overview. I have compiled it into a collection including how my activities vary from day to day. Here goes:
    I usually start my day at about 7:30 a.m., occasionally later on Sunday. I rarely sit down and have coffee until I straighten up the house. That involves making the bed as soon as I get up, picking up any clothes, straightening the sofa, gathering any glasses and such from the evening before and loading the dishwasher. I cannot focus in a mess. That usually takes about 15 minutes and the house looks decent and it gives me a handle on starting my day. Then I pour a cup of coffee, usually grab a yogurt or a hard-boiled egg and a glass of V-8 and I sit at the computer.
    My morning business involves checking my several email accounts, and responding to every email, every day. Most of it just gets deleted and readers who ask about my books and folks that are seeking publishing advice are answered. I check Facebook, my blog page, Twitter etc. That ordinarily takes me about one hour. In that time I have found I can stay on top of all of my accounts. If I have any updating to do, such a post on the blog (which I have pre-written), or if I need to update links to my books, I will do that. I also check any new reviews on my books every day as well. Before nine I’m through my coffee and ready to get on with the day.
    I get cleaned up and dressed at that point. I don't spend as much time on my hair and makeup as I used to. I have moved towards simpler styles now, but I still do put on my makeup every day, even if I don't plan on going out. I load the washer, put the coffee cups in the dishwasher and start the machines. By 9:30, if I am working on a new novel, I get to it. On the days I write, I take brief breaks to hang out the wash, or put it into the dryer, stretch and get back to writing. I get in a good writing session and most of the housework is in pretty good shape. Not only do the little breaks keep me limber but they give me time to contemplate my story. I have stepped away from the keyboard, but I am still writing. I never use that time to surf the web, which will ruin my creative concentration. At about 12:30 I take a break, sometimes I vacuum, or water my flowers outside, wash out my birdbaths and I putter a bit and get ready for lunch. On Wednesday I do my nails or clean out the fridge. The hour varies from day to day. Some days I write a bit longer.
    Three days a week my husband comes home at about 1:30 for lunch. We take about 45 minutes for lunch. My husband likes television and I will usually get out a project or read until he goes back to his part-time job.

 A sewing project for cherries beside my chair:

 Lunch hour cherries on my kitchen cabinets:


    After lunch I fold and put away any laundry, make any business phone calls I need to make and either go back to writing or do a project around the house. This is the time of day I might put wainscoting behind the stove or clean out my kitchen cabinets. Other days I might set up my loom, get out my spinning wheel or do research for my writing. At 4:30, pretty religiously, I stop, step away from the computer and sit down. It’s my hour before I need to shift gears and start dinner. I usually have a snack and sometimes I do nothing at all. If I have been embroiled in my writing or a creative project I can use that hour for that, but I rarely do. I might call my daughter or a friend. If it’s a pretty day I put up my feet on the deck and read or daydream. That one hour is mine and I try to enjoy it. Some days it is the only time I am not working on something. Because I set aside a little time to do whatever I want I never feel that I don't have time for myself. I do! I am careful not to fritter it away doing things that don't really fulfill me and then wonder why I have no time.

My current late day project:

   Dishtowels on the loom:

    At 5:30 I start dinner. After dinner I clean up the kitchen and enjoy my evening. I don’t usually just sit and I find the evening seems to get boring and is wasted away if I have my phone or iPad out for surfing. I try instead to enjoy something productive like knit or crochet, or read, and unless there is a movie I am interested in I don’t really watch TV much.
    I turn out the lights at about 11:00 before bed and that’s about it.

   This schedule does vary on different days of the week and seasonally. In the summer I take one morning, when I would be writing, and work in the yard one day a week. In the winter months I take that one day a week and I tend to write much more or research. I do get much more writing done since I now write almost full time.
    What if you work, you ask? I’ve done that as well. I apply similar tactics. Get up and straighten up. There are two things I find that rob me of my day. One is keeping a house, however small. Housework multiplies terribly. That dirty glass on the counter tells you that it’s okay to leave another and the next thing the whole kitchen is a mess. For me the weight of responsibility has me thinking about cleaning until I get to it, thus robbing me of life, creative thinking and loading me with stress. For myself, if my house is not in order then nothing in my life falls into place. I keep hearing about how creative people are messy. I believe there is a big difference between a creative mess, which I have made a-plenty, and living like a slob. Even a creative person only thrives and is accomplished in some kind of order. I don't try to look for excuses, but instead for solutions to make better use of my time.
    The second time thief is anything with a screen. If I feel like my day is getting away I take a hard look at the time I spend fooling around in front of a monitor. Surfing the web can suck my day away, as can television. I do surf, and I am a huge sucker for Judge Judy, so I sit down, take a specified amount of time, enjoy those things and then walk away. If your days slips away take time to know why. Time is yours and mine. There are those things that have to be given time, and those things that steal it away while making you believe you are “enjoying” it. Don’t trick yourself. Take control of your time then you will find you might have lots and lots!
      This is a schedule of what works for me. I get about eight hours of writing work done most days, I have a beautiful home and garden that I love. I have time to read a good book and to enjoy my creative projects. My husband is a musician and we got out in the evening and enjoy live music and friends frequently. Do I ever feel like there is not enough time in the day? Sometimes, but not all that often. I guess it's because I don't let time sneak away. So, if there's an answer to the question of how I get so many things done in one day I suppose that's it. I manage and watch my time. I lose much less that way.
     Oh and Sunday is the day I write my blog for the following Saturday morning, so happy Saturday and Sunday! Please come again!

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